It may have taken Warner Bros. and Zack Snyder a while, but they finally delivered an inspirational Man of Steel in the otherwise lackluster Justice League. Fans were receptive to Henry Cavill’s depiction of the iconic DC superhero, a rare highlight in an otherwise disappointing film, as he returned from the dead to take down Steppenwolf and save the day. In the end, audiences were left wanting more Superman, but sadly, it just wasn’t in the script.
We may not have to wait until the Man of Steel sequel now rumored to be in the works once again arrives for more of Cavill’s hero, though, as a recent report suggests he may appear in David Sandberg’s Shazam!. If he does appear in the film, the DC Extended Universe has the opportunity to make his appearance one of substance, and not just a gimmick cameo. The best way to ensure they get maximum effect from the Man of Tomorrow’s arrival is by doing something similar to what Marvel Studios did for Nick Fury: making Superman the chief recruiter and mentor for an expanded Justice League.
While both characters are vastly different at their core — Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is a human spy, while Superman’s a godlike benevolent alien — they both have the best interests of Earth in their mind. In Justice League, the new age of heroes was ushered in at the end as Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) was seemingly turning his mansion into the Hall of Justice, hinting at potential for more members, while the world at large was finally adoring and in awe of Superman.
Shazam! countld easily tie back into Justice League‘s opening scene, where Superman was being interviewed by a couple of young kids off-camera. Sandberg could easily retcon things to make them Billy Batson (Asher Angel) — the youngster who gains magic powers to become Shazam (Zachary Levi) — and some of his close friends like the Freeman family. Billy has always been a fanboy of Superman’s so Sandberg can easily show the kids collecting various clips and interviews with the hero, even obsessing over him, which can be the inspiration that drives Billy against villains such as Doctor Sivana (Mark Strong).
As for the mentor angle, well, Sandberg already has a template from when Snyder had Superman taking Flash under his wing in Justice League and even engaging him in a friendly race. It’s likely Batman or Cyborg would have taken notice of a new superhero like Shazam on the scene, after all, so Cavill’s Superman appearing at film’s end, officially offering him a spot on the team to learn from experienced heroes, would be a fantastic and logical payoff. This has been Batman’s role so far in the DCEU, but let’s face it, who wouldn’t be excited to train with and be led by a hero that has even defied death.
What makes this shift in Superman’s status quo so ideal is that he embodies Justice League’s promotional tagline: “You can’t save the world alone.” This is something Fury has ascribed to since debuting in 2008’s Iron Man with the outline of his Avengers initiative. Sure, he never have been the most friendly or honest face of heroism, but Fury has been a mentor to the likes of Black Widow, Maria Hill and, to some extent, Tony Stark and even Steve Rogers. The twist with Superman is that he’d be an out of the shadows mentor, and more of a public figure.
Seeking out new heroes and convincing them to join his crusade would cement Cavill’s superman as the altruistic figure fans hoped for since 2013’s Man of Steel. What’s even more intriguing is that as head of recruitment, he can leave all the planning to Batman and company, and jet off into space to enlist Green Lanterns or build cosmic alliances with species such as the Thanagarians. In other words, while he’d be recruiting like Fury, he wouldn’t be as limited. He can go wherever, whenever and recruit anyone throughout the universe.
His legend surely would have spread after Apokolips’ forces were defeated, and it’s clear, as per the fear Steppenwolf showed when facing him, that Kryptonians are revered in the galaxy. So while Fury and Batman had to work behind the scenes to assemble their teams, heroes may actually come flocking to Superman instead. And with more warriors to mentor, this can only lead to a stronger Superman, mentally and physically, for the DCEU.
Arriving in theaters on April 5, 2019, Shazam! is directed by David F. Sandberg and stars Zachary Levi as Shazam, Mark Strong as Doctor Sivana, Asher Angel as Billy Batson, Grace Fulton as Mary Bromfield, Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy Freeman, Ian Chen as Eugene Choi, Jovan Armand as Pedro Pena and Ron Cephas Jones as the Wizard.
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